CHAIRMAN'S MESSAGE: Reflecting on a Successful Year and Planning for the Next
The Cumberland Township Historical Society had an excellent year, hosting four lectures and two tours. Our speakers began with Carly Marshall from the Adams County Planning Office speaking on the interactive map and preservation sites for the Central Adams County Joint Comprehensive Plan. From this, the Preservation Committee has partnered with the Central Adams Joint Comprehensive Plan to continuously identify sites for preservation and add them to the interactive mapping program for Cumberland Township.
James Rada presented an excellent lecture on the Marines Invading Gettysburg. There was a possibility that the U.S. Marine Corps might be disbanded. Thus, partly as a publicity stunt, 5,000 Marines left Quantico on June 19, 1922, and headed north to Gettysburg. The Marines camped on the Codori Farm for 10 days as they first reenacted the battle and a few days later "fought" the Battle of Gettysburg with “modern” weapons and tactics. President and Mrs. Harding attended this gathering and stayed at the Codori Farm.
Mary Kay Turner’s presentation on the Church of the Brethren pointed out their mission, changes to their doctrine over the years, and the services they provide.
Chris Brenneman presented the Cyclorama painting and discussed new details that the painting shows. What a fascinating presentation as Chris shared his research with the Society. Chris wrote a book titled “The Gettysburg Cyclorama: The Turning Point of the Civil War on Canvas.” (See below for more on this presentation.)
The first of the tours was to see the remnants of Fantasyland, led by Jackie White and Speros Marinos. Jackie provided maps of where the various rides and lakes were located. The second tour was held at the Barlow Fire Company with a presentation of the company’s history by Jim Brown. He was assisted by Ross Maring, who spoke about the equipment and needs of the fire company.
The Board completed an extensive Board book detailing the duties and responsibilities for each committee, as well as a list of all committee members.
At the Society’s December 5, 2016, meeting, Doug Cooke and Ruby Warren were elected to the Board of Directors. The directors’ terms are: Doug Cooke, 2016-2019; Ruby Warren, 2016-2019; Linda Seamon, 2014-2017; John Horner, 2014-2017; and Elsie Morey, 2015-2018.
The Preservation Committee continues its hard work on a plaque/sign to commemorate the voting place of President Dwight Eisenhower and Mrs. Eisenhower. This will be located near the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company, as that was the polling location for the Eisenhowers. The committee will begin to obtain prices for the plaque and meet with the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company for further discussions.
The Board of Directors has taken on the task to form an “Initiative Committee” to formulate a plan for the Society’s future. The purpose of the committee will be to “think out of the box” with the goal of determining where you would like to see the Society in one year, three years, and five years; what type of programs you would like to hear; and what the Society’s priorities should be (increase membership, increase fund raising, undertake projects, improve committee structure, and update the computer system, to mention a few). We are asking for volunteers from our committees and our audience to join this committee. We wish your input on this endeavor to help guide your Society into the future. Please contact the Society if you would be willing to serve.
The year ahead
Last summer the Board began searching for ideas for speakers and tours for this year’s programs. The season will begin with a lecture from Kendra Debany on Theodore McAllister. There will be a presentation on the Epply Blacksmith Shop, Roy Thomas will speak on the Alms House, and Speros Marinos will speak on the Ottenstein Tower. A spring site tour of Herr’s Tavern is planned, accompanied by a tea. As further details develop, more information will be forthcoming, so stay tuned.
I wish to thank our many volunteers who assist the Society by serving on the various committees throughout the year, giving the Society hours of their time. It is highly appreciated and we could not survive without that assistance.
Come to any CTHS public meeting, and before or after the presentation, you’ll see groups of people chatting over refreshments, gesturing with a cup of lemonade or iced tea in one hand and a plate of goodies in the other.
The treats come courtesy of the CTHS Refreshment Committee, led by Dale Molina. She has been a part of the Society since its inception and has been on refreshment duty almost as long.
“From the beginning, we started bringing cookies and lemonade and tea,” Molina says. “Speros [Marinos, past CTHS chairman] asked me if I wanted to be in charge of the refreshments so I agreed. I thought it was nice to bring things associated with the seasons of the year.”
Like many CTHS members, Molina is a relatively new resident. She moved to Adams County from Alexandria, Virginia, in 2006.
“Retirement is what brought me to Gettysburg,” she says. “I thought it was a beautiful place to stay.
“I joined the CTHS from the beginning,” she adds. “I wanted to know about Cumberland Township since I was not a lifelong resident.”
Molina’s interests go beyond the township’s borders, however. She’s interested in genealogy and Civil War History and volunteers for the Gettysburg National Military Park Resource Room and for the Adams County Historical Society. Recently, she was asked to serve as the historian for the Gettysburg Presbyterian Church.
Molina hopes to see more people become involved with the Cumberland Township Historical Society and volunteer to help out as a member of the Refreshment Committee. Mary Horner and Carolyn Greaney also serve on the committee, she says, and Lynn Heller and Linda Seamon assist as needed.
Currently, these same committed volunteers provide refreshments at each quarterly meeting. New volunteers would allow the responsibilities to be rotated among the committee members. (The Society reimburses the volunteers for their expenses if they’re kept to a minimum and if receipts are provided, Dale says.)
The refreshment offerings seem to have grown along with the Society’s membership, Molina adds. “Refreshments do seem to draw people,” she quips, “but I really hope the main reason [they attend] is the interesting programs that we have.”
Seeking Help to Document 'Destroyed Structures'
I represent the CTHS as a Government Relations Liaison.
It has come to my attention that the Cumberland Township government has a demolition ordinance within the township. Every time a structure is demolished, the owner must furnish a photograph and paperwork to the zoning officer at the township building.
It would be nice for some volunteers to research the township archive so the Society could keep files on all of the destroyed structures of the township.
If interested in helping with this effort, please contact me (Speros Marinos) at 717-752-0293.
— Speros Marinos
Brenneman Gives a Close-Up Look at the Battle of Gettysburg Cyclorama
Even if you’ve seen the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama painting multiple times, chances are that Licensed Battlefield Guide and Gettysburg Foundation employee Chris Brenneman can show it to you in a whole new light.
Brenneman spent five years writing the book “The Gettysburg Cyclorama: The Turning Point of the Civil War on Canvas” with coauthor Sue Boardman—and countless hours scrutinizing details of the painting, which led him to some very interesting findings. He shared his unique perspective on the massive creation during the December 5 CTHS meeting. (Brenneman is shown here in a photo from his Amazon.com author page.)
The painting is a 360-degree depiction of Pickett’s Charge on July 3, 1863, the final day of the battle. Brenneman described the piece as “a giant round painting. The one at Gettysburg is 42 feet tall and 377 feet in circumference. It’s like the IMAX movie of its day. It was the first form of art for the masses.”
In 1882, French artist Paul Philippoteaux arrived in Gettysburg with a sketchbook and a guidebook. He also hired local photographer William H. Tipton to produce panoramic photos that would help him create the foundation for his work.
Cycloramas were all the rage in the 1800s, Brenneman said, when more than 100 may have existed. Now, he said, only two can be seen in the United States: the one in Gettysburg and one depicting the Battle of Atlanta, which is being restored and is set to reopen in Georgia later this year. Canada is home to another cyclorama painting, and perhaps 10 or 12 more exist in Europe.
Philippoteaux painted the Battle of Gettysburg cyclorama in 1883—and 1884 and 1885. During those years he created four different copies of the painting, Brenneman said. The first was for display in Chicago beginning in 1883, the second and third were in 1884 in Boston and Philadelphia, and the fourth was in New York City in 1885. The painting originally shown in Boston is the one still on display here in Cumberland Township.
“The version that’s in Gettysburg today has been here since 1913,” Brenneman said. “It was brought here for the 50th anniversary of the battle.” The painting was housed in a brick building on East Cemetery Hill for almost half a century until it was moved to the “old cyclorama building” in 1960, where it remained for another 40-plus years. A $13 million conservation effort got under way in 2003, and in 2008, a fully restored version of the painting opened in the new Gettysburg National Military Park Museum and Visitor Center.
Cycloramas are unique in the way they are displayed, Brenneman said, with the visitor’s eye level at about the middle of the painting, a canopy overhead, and real objects in the foreground.
“By blurring the illusion of where it starts and where it ends, that’s what makes you feel like you’re part of it, what gives it that 3D feel,” Brenneman said.
In writing their book, Brenneman said, his coauthor Sue Boardman focused on the details of the painting’s creation, the history of the four different copies, and the restoration, while he focused on the people and places in the painting.
“While doing that, I came upon some mysteries,” he said, “and that’s what I’m here to talk about today."
A mystery and some clues
In each city where the cyclorama was displayed, Brenneman said, visitors were given a program that contained a round drawing—a numbered “key” detailing who and what were located where in the painting. He realized, however, that the keys for the four paintings were different. They focused on different people and contained different descriptions, but he didn’t know why.
After some sleuthing, Brenneman determined that individuals well-known in the cities where the cycloramas were displayed were highlighted in the key for that painting but not for the others. In some cases, they might not have been famous at the time of the battle but became so later in life.
“It’s not just who you were in 1863 that was important but who you were in 1884 that was important,” he noted.
More research turned up more questions, too, such as why the paintings themselves were different.
“We found out by studying old pictures and modern pictures that the painting had been changed,” Brenneman said. “They actually closed the painting and added more figures, more flags, more groups of soldiers. They touched up the painting sometime during its history.”
For instance, he said, some early cyclorama viewers asked where General Meade’s headquarters were. Later on, the general’s headquarters appear much closer, right where a haystack had once been.
Brenneman also described other changes, including:
- A battery wagon, kind of a mobile fix-it shop, appeared in an early painting in the middle of the high-water mark, where hand-to-hand combat was taking place and where it never would have been located. It was later gone, replaced by a cannon.
- A later depiction of Union Gen. John C. Caldwell’s division showed a lot more men than the original, perhaps to make it look like a true division.
- An area that originally showed just the U.S. flag later showed a blue state flag, too. The red from the stripes on the original flag is barely visible through the “new” flag upon close inspection, Brenneman said, and the additional thickness of paint can also be detected.
- An area once blurred by smoke later had less smoke and many more troops in the background.
“Why did they make these changes?” Brenneman wondered. “All I knew was that in the pictures from the 1880s, this stuff was not there, and by 1896, it was there.”
He found his answer in an advertising pamphlet that had been donated to the GNMP. It touted the reopening of the cyclorama, stating that the painting had been criticized by some and, “acting with the advice of many prominent veterans and war historians,” many more troops, flags, etc. had been painted on “by eminent artists at great expense.”
“The people coming to see it were making suggestions,” Brenneman said. “They were getting notes from the people going to see the one in Boston, and they used those to improve the Philadelphia and New York copies.”
Brenneman believes the “eminent artists” mentioned were the assistants of Philippoteaux, if not the artist himself.
“He owned a share of the company that exhibited [the cycloramas],” Brenneman said. “He stood to gain by having people continue to see his painting. It would have been in his best interest to jazz it up.
“Gettysburg was the ‘Star Wars’ of the cyclorama,” he added. “George Lucas added special effects and jazzed up the original Star Wars movies, and this is the director’s cut of the cyclorama.”
People and places in the painting
Brenneman also shared some details about who’s who in the painting—figures perhaps indistinguishable unless you’re getting a close-up view— as well as some well-known places:
- The Pitzer Farm, which in the painting appears to be on Seminary Ridge. Brenneman discovered while driving one day that it’s an optical illusion. When the trees have shed their leaves, it really does look that way, but is actually about 400 to 500 yards beyond the Ridge.
- General Lee and his staff are no more than three or four inches tall in the painting, but Lee’s light-colored horse Traveller is recognizable, as are Lee’s white hat and gloves. “Even though super-small, the artist got those kinds of details right,” Brenneman said.
- The artists snuck Abraham Lincoln (shown below) into the painting, saying “the wounded president was a symbol of a wounded nation.”
- Ghostly figures are a result not of ghosts on the battlefield but how the image was created. The artists made a one-tenth size version of the cyclorama, drew grid lines on it, then drew grid lines on the actual canvas and projected pictures onto it. They penciled in outlines of everything before painting, and Brenneman said they “must have missed these five guys” because you can still see their dim outline. The “mistake” was preserved during the restoration.
- Philippoteaux met brothers Robert and Peter Bird (or Byrd) of the 24th Michigan Brigade when they were in Gettysburg for a reunion. “He thought they were nice guys so painted them into the painting,” Brenneman said. He surmises the gray hair they sport in the painting is the hair they had when the artist met them, and that they probably looked quite a bit younger in 1863.
- Philippoteaux snuck himself into the painting, one of only two figures in the canvas leaning against a tree. “He seems to have a little bit more hair and a little less weight in the painting, and he made himself an officer,” Brenneman notes.
- At least some of the artists’ assistants can also be found in the painting. Finding them is an ongoing puzzle that Brenneman is determined to solve.
- The artist’s father, Henri Felix Philippoteaux, also a famous artist, became his son’s assistant later in life. He helped out on the first two versions of the painting but passed away after the Boston version was displayed. Brenneman is confident he has found Henri in the painting.
Take another look
Brenneman and CTHS Secretary Cyril Ackerman urged the audience to visit the cyclorama again and notice things they may not have seen before. The winter months are the perfect time, Brenneman said, because the shows are longer through February (30 minutes instead of 15) and less crowded than at other times of the year.
Consider the book
Brenneman’s book is rich with detail as well as photographs. One audience member lauded the work by saying, “The book is fabulous.” It’s available locally and from a large number of online retailers.The photo immediately below shows a portion of the cyclorama painting from 1884 with an open area of wheat field on the left. In 1889, Gen. Meade and troops were added (see close-up at bottom) to this open area.
A PHOTOGRAPHIC TOUR THROUGH TIME The Stores of Cumberland Township
On Tuesday, January 24, the CTHS column in the Gettysburg Times will feature the stores of Cumberland Township. CTHS Chairman Elsie Morey researched and wrote this month’s Times column, which will mention the stores pictured in the two photos below:
Photo 1: Hugh Paxton Bigham purchased land and buildings at a sheriff’s sale in late 1864, and thereafter became the proprietor of a general store in the area known as Green Mount (later Greenmount) at the southern end of Cumberland Township. He was appointed postmaster of Green Mount Post Office on January 21, 1865, and served continuously for more than 48 years until the Post Office was discontinued September 30, 1913. The photo below shows Bigham at the store with “Mac” hitched to the buggy. (Horner, John B. Sergeant Hugh Paxton Bigham: Lincoln’s Guard at Gettysburg. www.emmitsburg.net.)
Photo 2: Maring’s Grocery (the Barlow Store) traced its roots to around 1929. Clarence Fair was the first owner, and the names of other owners/renters include Codori, Reed, Stull, and Witherow. John and Romaine Kehr Maring bought the store in 1964 and operated it until 1970. They had two children, Mary Ellen and Gary. The photo below shows Mary Ellen Maring outside the business. (Adams County Historical Society and Geiselman, John, P. Reflections. 1996.]
Marking History: Barlow Fire Co. Was Site of Union Army Encampment
The marker shown below is at the Barlow Volunteer Fire Company, on PA 134 at SR 1002 (Taneytown and Greenmount Roads).
(Photo by Mike Florer)
Mark Your Calendar: Upcoming CTHS Events
The Cumberland Township Historical Society holds quarterly public meetings, each featuring a special presentation on a specific aspect of the township's history. All presentations are free and open to the public. They take place at 7 p.m. at the Church of the Brethren, 1710 Biglerville Road, Gettysburg.
March 6 Join historian Kendra Debany for an eye-opening presentation on one of Cumberland Township’s prominent past citizens, the Honorable Theodore McAllister. Through the use of photographs, diaries, maps, family accounts, and the extensive writings of McAllister himself, Debany will explore the exciting and remarkable life of one of Cumberland Township’s forgotten residents.
April (date to be determined) CTHS Members-Only Spring Site Tour of Herr's Tavern, accompanied by a tea.
June 6 Hear a presentation on the John Epley Blacksmith Shop, which operated for close to 60 years at the northwest corner of Taneytown and Wheatfield Roads and is on display at the Landis Valley Museum.
August (date to be determined) CTHS Members-Only Summer Site Tour.
September 11 Learn about the Adams County Almshouse in this presentation by Roy Thomas. Built in 1820 to care for the county's poor, it was located in Cumberland Township on approximately 270 acres of land.
December 4 Speros Marinos presents a program on the Ottenstein Tower, a more than 300-foot-tall privately owned observation tower that overlooked the Gettysburg National Military Park from 1974 to 2000—and sparked controversy from its very beginning.
Tuesday, March 7: John Horner Shares Family Farm History at ACHS Event
CTHS Vice Chairman John Horner will present a program on “The Historic Horner Farm” for the Adams County Historical Society on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, at 7 p.m. The program will be held in the auditorium of the Lutheran Seminary's Valentine Hall.
The Horner Farm is one of the most significant rural properties in the Adams County. This program will trace the history of the property from the time the Horner Family purchased it in 1802 to the present day—in its fifth generationowned by direct descendants of the original owners.
The farm has earned various recognitions, awards, and honors in recent years, including Manor of Maske, Pennsylvania Bicentennial Farm, Historic Gettysburg-Adams County (HGAC) award for restoration (1985), HGAC Barn Registry, National Register of Historic Places, participation in both the county and state Preservation Program, Bush Horner Branch in the US Geodetic Survey, partner in the Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful Program, and many more.
This program is free and open to the public.
Resolve to Become a CTHS Member in 2017!
CTHS Vice Chairman John Horner asks you to consider these 10 two-letter words: If it is to be, it is up to me.
What do they mean to you, and what could they mean for the Cumberland Township Historical Society? He shared the following thoughts with those who attended the CTHS meeting in December:
“If it is to be that we are to have more and better programming, if it is to be that we are to have more and meaningful projects in our Society, if it is to be that we are to have all of our bills paid and money in the bank, then it is up to me to give my time to the Society by attending meetings and supporting the Society activities.
“It is up to me to give whatever talent I may have been blessed with (and almost all of us have been blessed with some) to serve our Society, and it is up to me to support our Society financially by giving as generously as I can...You have always surpassed our expectations in this area. We thank you for this and hope that this will continue.”
If you are not yet a member but are interested in supporting CTHS through an annual membership — individual ($20), family ($30), or corporate ($100) — or through the gift of a lifetime membership ($500) — click here for details. Many thanks to the following 2017 and Lifetime CTHS members for their support:
Rick and Ellie Bilz
Col. John and Lisa Burt
Tom and Joanne Clowney
Doug and Renee Cooke
Michael and Jennifer Florer
Mark and Cindy Fox
Stewart and Sarah Gardner
Tom and Carolyn Greaney
Carol Hegeman and Paul Shevchuk
John and Mary Horner
Alan and Louise Mains
Richard C. Mancini
Speros and Nancye Marinos
Richard and Julia McGeary
Linda and Henry Seamon
Barry and Jean Stone
Philip, Barb, and Jackie Wolf
Commemorative Keepsakes...A Gift to Yourself or Someone Else
Whether you're looking for a way to say "thank you" to someone else or give yourself a treat, these CTHS commemorative items can fill the bill. Browse the options below and make your purchase at the March 6 meeting or contact CTHS member Tom Clowney at (717) 334-5406.
This cozy throw ($36) depicts Sachs Bridge, as well as the Cumberland Township logo.
The handcrafted keepsakes shown below are made from a tree that witnessed President Lincoln as he rode toward the National Cemetery to deliver his Gettysburg Address.
Pricing for the items shown above follows:
Magnet – $15
Hanging ornament – $15
Paper weight – $20
Letter opener – $25
Pen – $45
The following printed documents are also available:
The Inhabitants of Cumberland Township During the Civil War ($10)
The Agricultural History of Cumberland Township, 1749-2014 ($5)
Thank you for your purchase and your support of the Cumberland Township Historical Society.